Poly(β-aminoester) dendrimers have been prepared. These systems represent the first degradable dual pH- and temperature-responsive dendrimers displaying photoluminescence. The pH/temperature sensitivities are interrelated; the lower critical solution temperature of the dendrimer decreases as the pH of the solution is increased. The sensitivities are mainly due to phase changes of the surface groups with changes in pH or temperature. These dual-responsive dendrimers are very useful in drug delivery. They may be loaded with a hydrophobic drug at low temperature without using organic solvents. The loaded drug is released very slowly and steadily at 37 °C and physiological pH, but can be quickly released at acidic pH, for example the lysosomal pH (pH 4–5), for intracellular drug release. These dendrimers also display strong photoluminescence, which can be exploited for monitoring drug loading and release. Thus, poly(β-aminoester) dendrimers constitute ideal drug carriers since their thermal sensitivity allows the loading of drugs without using organic solvents, their pH sensitivity permits fast intracellular drug release, and their photoluminescence provides a means of monitoring drug loading and release.
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